The media’s interest into the "missing groom" story was unparalleled in the history of the cruise industry. Royal Caribbean had been able to dodge bad press about the disappearance of passengers and women and children sexually assaulted on its fleet of cruise ships for decades.
But the case of George Smith was different. Every network was covering the story, non-stop.
I will never forget sitting behind my desk speaking on the telephone with Greta Van Sustern about the case when my secretary, Betsy, buzzed me saying: "Larry King is holding on line 2." I suppose it was a tad obnoxious to respond to Betsy: "tell Larry that I will call him back in a couple of minutes."
But that was the way it was with the most popular case involving a cruise ship mystery like this. We were receiving letters, Fed Ex packages, flower arrangements, notes, and invitations to stay in hotels before and after high profile interviews on a weekly basis.
We used the media to our advantage. We were dealing with Royal Caribbean, an admitted corporate felon which was just coming off a five year period of probation for lying to the U.S. Coast Guard about wide spread illegal dumping of chemicals and blackwater into the aqua, warm waters of Biscayne Bay in Miami to the dark, cool waters of Alaska. This was a corporation with a reputation for dishonesty.
Larry King invited me on his show twice. First in August 2005 before I was hired by Jennifer Hagel to talk about the issues in the case. The second time was in January 2006, together with the Smith family and their counsel, after I was retained, to talk about the details of the case.
Shows like Larry King Live, with literally millions of viewers, were instrumental in educating the public about the problems of crimes and disappearances on cruise ships which the cruise industry had kept hidden for years. The publicity would continue as the U.S. Congress convened five hearings in the House of Representatives and Senate into the issue of crimes and disappearances of passengers on cruise ships.
This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV – Six Years Later.
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